Mearsheimer vs Nye on the Rise of China

The rise of China is the key issue of the 21st century. Can China rise peacefully? Has America’s engagement policy created a peer competitor? How should the U.S. respond to Beijing’s island-building in the South China Sea, and its institution-building in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)?

This short documentary film (19 minutes) by Bill Callahan examines how the personal experiences of iconic IR theorists John Mearsheimer (Chicago) and Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (Harvard) on their first trips to China have framed their strategic understandings of U.S.-China relations. Are Offensive Realists like Mearsheimer correct that a rising China is structurally determined to challenge the hegemonic U.S.? Can U.S.-China relations be managed through diplomacy and international organisations, as the Liberal Institutionalists argue? Or does America’s China policy need a combination of Realism and Liberalism, as Nye suggests?

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Forum: The Logic of Effective Altruism

Effective altruism is based on a very simple idea: we should do the most good we can. Obeying the usual rules about not stealing, cheating, hurting, and killing is not enough, or at least not enough for those of us who have the good fortune to live in material comfort, who can feed, house, and clothe ourselves and our families and still have money or time to spare. Living a minimally acceptable ethical life involves using a substantial part of our spare resources to make the world a better place. Living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good we can.

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Louis Althusser, the Ideological State Apparatus, and Interpellation

Imagine that you’ve magically transformed into a bourgeoisie capitalist. You wake up one morning and…poof: regal cashmere pajamas, silk blankets, king size bed, and, as you wrestle your way out of bed, you find that your feet have found their way into Ralph Lauren velvet slippers. Ahh. And, to your delight(?) your uncle has just died, leaving his inheritance and his prestigious job as CEO at BillionBucks to you. Assuming you accept my scenario and want to keep you wealth and prestige, what is your first order of business? It’s quite simple really, an answer found within the question: you make sure to keep things they way they are. Or, in Marxist terms, you look to reproduce the conditions of production, which includes the productive force, and the existing relations of production. For those uninitiated with Marxism, this means that the bourgeoisie (those in charge of factories or are otherwise wealthy) try to keep the proletariats (workers) working in factories (or similarly oppressive situations) with the same sorts of tools, machinery and other resources, while also making sure the proletariats don’t gain any control or form some sort of coalition.

In tandem, the productive forces and relations of production make up what is called the mode of production, which is also known in Marxist theory as the ‘base’ of society. Marxists thinkers argue that those in control of the mode of production, or the base, will also control the cultural climate of the society, or, the superstructure. In simple terms, if you control factories and those working in factories, you also naturally control art, movies, language, literature, or, to be broad, culture. However, for some, Orthodox Marxism has been too inflexible and drastic in some areas. In light of this, many neo-Marxists, or post-Marxists or just plain old Marxists have attempted to add more intellectual nuance and depth to Marx’s thought. Among one of these thinkers was the French Structuralist Louis Althusser.

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In defense of the Eurozone

There are two ways to look at the Eurozone. One is as an economic project meant to better the situations of its member-states. That's how much of the world is seeing it with this week's Greek crisis, which will potentially end with Greece leaving the Eurozone. In this light, Europe's currency union does not look very successful at all.

Then there's the other way to look at the Eurozone: as part of a larger, decades-long project to transform Europe from a place of war and violent turmoil into one of peace and stability. If you take that long view, it starts to look pretty good. Before 1945, Europe had suffered centuries of devastating wars. Since 1945, it hasn't. There is certainly still turmoil — Greece's crisis, for example — but it's turmoil of a much less destructive sort than what Europe has endured in the past.

That European project isn't the only reason that Europe has become more peaceful, of course (neither is it the only reason that Greece's economy is in such trouble). And there is truth to both views of the Eurozone. The criticisms have a lot of merit. But you can't understand what's really going on with the Eurozone without looking at the bigger picture, and in that view it starts to look, while far from perfect, a good deal better.

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The Lonely American

A generation has fallen down the rabbit hole of electronic hallucinations—with images often dominated by violence and pornography. They have become, in the words of the philosopher Hannah Arendt, “atomized,” sucked alone into systems of information and entertainment that cater to America’s prurient fascination with the tawdry, the cruel and the deadening cult of the self.

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Peace First Prize Winners Demonstrate How Youth Can Change the World

“Our models for thinking and talking about young people is that they are victims or potential victims that we need to protect, or they're problems that we need to fix,” Peace First cofounder Eric Dawson told NPR’s Michel Martin in 2013. Otherwise, he told the audience in Aspen, “we do tend to talk about young people as the future—you’re going to be a great artist someday, or a great leader, or whatever —which has the effect of telling them, That’s not who you are right now.”

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How Race Is Conjured

There is a window, then, for the US left to push a deeper and broader conversation about the implications of racism and to build working-class organizations that fight for social justice for all.

But that opportunity will only be open to the degree we can overcome the ideological legacy of the last three decades. Since the 1980s, structural inequality has been increasingly replaced by personal responsibility as the main explanation for gross inequality. At the same time, attention to persistent and structural racism faded, supplanted by a focus on race and “race relations.”

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What Happens When Oligarchs and Vigilantes Take Over Public Safety in a Big City

Safety is a privilege in Detroit. Like all privileges, it gravitates toward the white and wealthy.

Decades of budget cuts to public safety services alongside concentrated investment downtown has created two Detroits: downtown, white and professional, bathed in state-of-the-art private security; and the “neighborhoods,” poor and black, where public safety has become a do-it-yourself endeavor.

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Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11

WASHINGTON — In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

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